Ole Witthøft

Readers' verdict on Speaker Q113 - Part 2

What do Ingeniørens readers say about the sound of the speakers in our open development project? Find out here, where 92 dedicated readers give their marks.
The SA2K loudspeaker received a great review in its time. The task for the Q113 project is to create speakers in collaboration with Ingeniørens readers that can surpass the old master. But how close are we to the goal? The four Q113 speakers have reached the point where they are ready to be judged by people outside the group that made them. The speakers are now as good as they can get, and this may be the closest we get to a real exam. It is undeniably with great excitement that I am inviting people to an Open House in April, where they will hear and see Speaker Q113 for the first time. The big question is whether readers will immediately experience the same thing as you do when you have been working with things at close quarters for several weeks. Not to say: What do people even notice when they experience something for the first time? Then, not least, there is the question of consensus. The team behind the speakers agree that the sound the speakers are producing right now is close to the best we can achieve as they are designed. You can argue about whether a few sonic nuances are quite right, but that's minor stuff. But what do we do if readers vehemently disagree with the sound achieved? Do we run it all into the harbour and what should the consequence of the listening test be?



The questionnaire. The test persons had to rate the speakers between 0 and 20 in different categories.


The position on sound is clear

The good thing is that the team behind the speakers is completely clear about which speakers we prefer. No disagreements here. Conversely, it's probably not uncommon for a certain sameness to arise between people who go up and down on each other, and so the readers' input is an important reminder of what's going on in the outside world. At this stage, I haven't told you what the team behind the speakers themselves think of the sound, and I haven't published any measurements that might sway the testers' impressions in particular directions. It's their honest opinion that counts.



The wall speaker against the floor speaker. Can readers hear the difference between two speakers that are (acoustically speaking) almost the same? They can!


How we did it

Prior to the listening test, we chose six music examples, each of which reveals different aspects of sound. All test persons have to listen to the same music and fill in the same questionnaire with their personal evaluations of the sound. The test participants are invited into the listening room in teams of six and according to a time reservation made by the participants themselves. The questionnaire contains seven questions that we believe are central to the sound experience. The respondent can relate to the questions in any order and assign each question a score from 0 to 20. Participants are offered help to understand the questions and the test lasts 30 minutes. The test is a comparison of the sound from two pairs of loudspeakers. One test is a comparison between the wall speaker and the floor speaker, while the other consists of a comparison between the SA2K and the Q113 Evolution. The test is done like this, to compare speakers that are close in price. The Q113 DIY is omitted from the test this time, partly because it is very close to the Q113 Evolution and partly because it has not been possible to find the time to carry out the many tests in practice.



The Q113 Evolution (right) is based on the SA2K (left). There is a 13 year and unique development process difference between the two speakers. Can you hear it?


This was the result

A speaker can score a total of 140 points if it is awarded the top score of 20 in all seven disciplines. A score of 140 points thus corresponds to the best sound quality the tester has ever heard, while 70 points corresponds to an average sound experience for the tester, and anything below 70 points is below average. Here, the Q113 Evolution compact speaker scores by far the most points with 111.6. This not only places it as the highest scoring speaker among the four models tested. It also places it high above the average. The second highest score is achieved by the Q113 Revolution floorstanding speaker, which scores 109.3 points overall. It is followed by the SA2K, which with 103.0 points has nothing to be ashamed of. The loser in the tough comparative test was the wall speaker, which scored 89.9, well above average but not as high as its colleagues.




The results of the listening test. The Q113 Evolution scores the most points, followed by the Q113 Revolution floorstander.


Then you can closely study the characters

Here, for example, you will notice that the Q113 Evolution scores higher than the SA2K in all seven disciplines. One can also notice that the Q113 Evolution scores a notch worse on "Bass (volume)" compared to the floorstander, but slightly better on "Bass (definition)". You can compare the results for the wall and floor speaker and keep in mind that here are two speakers that (acoustically speaking) are almost the same, but not even the treble reproduction is rated to be on par with each other. Interesting. In fact, the two speakers are not considered to be in the same league at all. What reflection does that give you?

What consequence would you draw now?

If you've been following Speaker Q113, are you surprised by the test results, or is it everything you imagined? Since you got to know the testers in Part 1, do you understand the consistency of their ratings, here in Part 2? In Part 3, I plan to come up with some conclusions to be drawn as a result of the listening test. For example, there have been high expectations for the wall speaker. What should be done with these expectations, now that the wall loudspeaker has the worst score and is the second most expensive in the project? Does it score badly because it is the speaker that the fewest testers are interested in, as you could read in part 1? Has evolution won over both SA2K and the revolution and is the project therefore over? Should we just shrug our shoulders at the fact that the project's most expensive speaker only came in second, or should we turn our backs and take up the fight against evolution, which currently seems to be winning all the plaudits? One thing is certain. We can measure and calculate a lot of things when it comes to sound. All the speakers in this project are at the end of the spectrum where the measurements are really good and the engineering is in place. There's not a lot to go by. Nevertheless, the speakers are experienced differently. So different, in fact, that the 13-year-old SA2K emphatically knocks the wall-mounted speaker out of the park, even though the latter was developed using some of the industry's best and latest equipment. The happy thing is that the team behind the speakers is in complete agreement with the 92-person listening panel. Right now, our winner is also the Q113 Evolution. But where would you go from here?
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Ole Witthøft
Ole is the founder of System Audio. His 3 greatest passions are music, design and technology. Every day, Ole is working on some kind of projects, and you find him in the workshop, in the production, behind a computer or on one of his many presentations around the world.
Readers' verdict on Speaker Q113 - Part 2 | SA

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